BERKELEY, Calif., Aug. 9 (UPI) -- A genetic analysis of a deadly fungus decimating U.S. yellow-legged frogs in the Sierra Nevada Mountains shows it spreads by sexual reproduction.
The dramatic decline of the frogs has been attributed to the introduction of non-native predatory fish in some areas and to chytridiomycosis, a quickly spreading disease caused by the waterborne fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.
The new study -- led by the University of California-Berkeley -- suggests the fungus might have a more significant role in the frogs' demise than had been thought because of the pathogen's ability to spread over long distances and possibly persist in the environment through sexual reproduction.
"This group of fungi, when it reproduces sexually, can create spores that can last for a decade," said Professor John Taylor, the study's principal investigator. "That could make this pathogen a harder problem to defeat."
The findings might also help explain the global spread of the pathogen, which has also been found in South America, Australia, Europe and Africa.
The findings are to appear in next week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.